Yann Candele of Caledon, ON jumped his way to a fourth consecutive Canadian Show Jumping Championship title in front of a packed Saturday night crowd on Nov. 2 at the CSI4*-W Royal Horse Show in Toronto, ON. "It feels fantastic to win. It's always hard. It's always a different challenge and always a lot of pressure for everybody," said Candele. "We all know that if you want to win a championship like this that you have to be clear every day."
This year's record-breaking consecutive win came under special circumstances for Candele. His equine partner for the prestigious championships wasn't locked down until just two weeks ago when fellow Canadian Show Jumper Eric Lamaze offered an amazing show of support. Lamaze spearheaded a group of owners to purchase Showgirl from Attache Stables of Calgary, AB specifically for Candele.
Showgirl, a 13-year-old Selle Francais mare previously ridden by Canada's Jonathan Asselin, stepped off a plane from Europe just a few short weeks before the Royal, making the Canadian Championships the first competition for this newly-formed team.
Despite their unfamiliarity with each other, Candele and Showgirl thrilled the crowd during the $25,000 Greenhawk Canadian Cup Round 1 speed class on Friday night, laying down a precise performance in the fast time of 66.16 seconds.
This win set them up to enter Saturday's two-phase $50,000 Greenhawk Canadian Cup Round 2 as the leaders, and allowed them the luxury of being the final entry in the class. And since the championship follows the World Cup Final format, it also let the pair move forward with zero penalties.
A careful, quick round over 15 jumping efforts in phase one added no faults, keeping their score at zero. Once again the final pair to complete the shortened course in phase two, Candele and Showgirl had the crowd on the edge of their seats after a few close calls and hard rubs. Luckily, all the rails stayed in the cups and they were able to finish on their perfect score of zero.
"We're just getting used to each other," said Candele of his new mount. "In the first two rounds I thought I managed really well and she was jumping very well. She got a little bit tired in the third round and I don't know her very well yet. I think it was a poor performance on me, and an amazing performance on her. She just carried me around-things were going 'wrong and wronger' but she did what she was supposed to do. I'm so pleased with her."
As for his reaction to his record-breaking ownership of the Canadian title, Candele said, "The Canadian Championship is a big deal for me. I'm proud of winning it and I'll keep trying every year."
The 2013 Canadian Show Jumping Reserve Champion was veteran Beth Underhill of Schomberg, ON. Underhill also had an inspiring story behind this year's success, due to the challenging history of her mount, Viggo (an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding). "(Viggo) had a full year off due to an injury and I honestly didn't think he'd be coming back to major competition whatsoever. He just started to do the big FEI grand prix classes again in the last six weeks of the outdoor season, so he's quite rusty at the 1.60m level at this moment," she explained.
This unfortunate setback didn't stand in the way of the duo's foot-perfect performance over all three phases of the championship. A clear jumping effort in Round 1 took them into Round 2 with just 1.62 penalties-a score they would ultimately finish on after two more faultless trips.
"I was mostly proud of my horse because it's been two years since he's jumped indoors," said Underhill. "A lot of horses here had the opportunity to jump a little bit at some of the other indoor shows, or at least came here last year. But, it's been a two-year hiatus for him. I really didn't know how he would step into this ring after that break, but he just felt like he jumped better and better every round."
Angela Covert of St. Lazare, QC rounded out the top three with a total score of 4.33 penalties aboard Utan, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by the Eastwood Group.
As the top two finishers in the Canadian Show Jumping Championships, Candele and Underhill have also qualified to compete in the international division of the Royal Horse Show, which gears up next week. "I came here thinking I really want to be top two and earn our berth for the international week, so I'm really proud that we were able to do that. I'm looking forward to getting to stay down here and keep jumping," commented Underhill.
Additional Canadians qualified to enter the international division are Mac Cone, Angela Covert, Karen Cudmore, Jordan MacPherson, Ian Millar, and Ainsley Vince.
2013 Canadian Show Jumping Championships - Final Results
Placing / Rider / Horse / Final Score
1 / Yan Candele / Showgirl / 0
2 / Beth Underhill / Viggo / 1.62
3 / Angela Covert / Utan / 4.33
4 / Jordan MacPherson / Piccobello du Val de Geer / 4.66
5 / Isabelle Lapierre / Vicki Vale / 6.74
6 / Ainsley Vince / Frieda / 8.19
7 / Christian Sorensen / Bobby / 8.62
8 / Ian Millar / Star Power / 8.65
9 / Lauren Patava / Sly / 13.48
10 / Mac Cone / Amor van de Rostal / 19.35
Source: Press release from Equine Canada
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